Holyrood committee warns time needed to scrutinise parking tax plans

MSPs have warned they need time to take evidence on controversial plans for a workplace parking levy.

Bringing in a parking tax for workplaces, excluding NHS premises, was a key concession enabling the minority SNP administration to strike a deal with the Greens to pass the Government’s tax and spending plans last week.

The Government has pledged to support a Green amendment to introduce the parking tax to planned legislation, bringing in a series of changes to transport, such as banning pavement parking and on the creation of low emission zones.

This is due to happen at Stage 2 scrutiny of the Transport (Scotland) Bill and now Holyrood’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee has called for adequate time to scrutinise the proposal.

Its convener Edward Mountain said the committee is “concerned” that the significant change to the Bill is being brought in at this stage.

Edward Mountain MSP
Edward Mountain MSP

Mr Mountain said: “The committee is aware that the Scottish Government has announced that it is to support an agreed Scottish Green Party amendment at Stage 2 of the Transport (Scotland) Bill on the granting of powers to local authorities to introduce a workplace parking levy.

“It is understood that Scottish Government support for this amendment is contingent on the exclusion of NHS premises.

“The committee is concerned that this amendment, which will seek to make a significant addition to the Bill, is to be brought forward at Stage 2.

“It therefore considers it to be essential that it has the opportunity to scrutinise the terms of any such amendment.

“The committee therefore requires a timetable for Stage 2 consideration which will allow it to take oral evidence on the proposed amendment from key stakeholders, before making a formal decision on the amendment.”

The Bill is currently at Stage 1 with the committee expected to produce a report before it goes before parliament for a vote on its general principles, which has a deadline of April 5.

The Conservatives oppose the parking tax, which they claim could cost commuters up to £500 each, while the Government has said it would be up to individual councils whether or not to bring it in.

Local authorities in England and Wales already have the power to implement a parking tax, with only Nottingham City Council having done so.